TIFF 2016 Spotlight: A DEATH IN THE GUNJ (2016) – Konkona Sen Sharma’s Directorial Debut

Published by Shah Shahid on

Konkona Sen Sharma is a critically acclaimed actress and part of a new generation that have proven that caliber of performances are a more powerful measure of talent than other superficial qualities. Having established herself as a powerhouse actor in films like ‘Talvar’ and ‘Omkara’, Sharma will be making her debut as a director with her film premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2016.

Check out the trailer for ‘A Death In The Gunj’ directed by Konkona Sen Sharma.

Featuring an ensemble cast of character actors and performers from the more arthouse brand of Indian cinema, ‘A Death In the Gunj’ looks like a coming of age drama, about one man and his place in the world. There seem to be many stories at play in the film, ranging from an eccentric family on vacation to the the sweet friendship of a young girl with the family’s servant. With marriages tested, romances blossoming and affairs-a-comitting, the story seems very promising, especially with the plot twist teased in the title. 

The lead character of the film is Vikrant Massey as Shutu. Massey was last seen in ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’, playing the young man who fell in love with the girl that was supposed to be engaged to Ranveer Singh’s character. In the trailer, we catch glimpses of many other Bollywood actors, all recognizably talented in their own right, and adding to the immense acting cred already in the movie. 

TIFF 2016 Spotlight: A DEATH IN THE GUNJ (2016) - Konkona Sensharma's Directorial Debut

Most notable is Kalki Koechlin, (‘Margarita With A Straw’) who tows the lines between art house cinema and mainstream Bollywood projects. Koechlin has made a career of being involved in unique and groundbreaking films. She was seen acting with Konkona Sen Sharma in ‘Ek Thi Daiyan’. Ranvir Shorey (‘Happy Ending’, ‘Titli’) seems to be playing Koechlin’s character’s husband. Usually the comic relief in most popular Bollywood film, Shorey has an immensely serious side as well, as most of thos esilly characters usually take an emotional turn, providing a lot of depth.

The film sees veteran Bollywood actors like Om Puri and Tanuja, most likely playing the parents of the family. The breakout star from ‘Hunterrr’, Gulshan Devaiah, also appears here in a prominent role. 

While this is Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial debut, it’s interesting to note that she is not starring in the film herself. This sort of disconnect when an actor turned director is always admirable, as it shows that she’s separating the artist from the creator, at least for her debut. It’s also interesting to note that before she established herself on her own merit, Sharma was known mostly for being daughter of critically acclaimed Bengali director Aparna Sen. So it’s also kind of cool to see her following in her mom’s legacy.

TIFF 2016 Spotlight: A DEATH IN THE GUNJ (2016) - Konkona Sensharma's Directorial Debut

On top of being Sharma’s directorial debut, ‘A Death In The Gunj’ has some massive heavyweights supporting the film. Launched by Vishal Bhardwaj and Gulzar, the film is produced by Abhishek Chaubey, whose most recent ‘Udta Punjab’ took Bollywood by storm.

The film also seems to be mostly shot in the English language, but there are many characters speaking Bengali as well, implying the characters to be of that sub region of India, similar to Sharma herself, who also wrote the screenplay. 

For a teaser introducing disconnected scenes within the film, this trailer for ‘A Death In the Gunj’ is considerably long. Similar trailers for dark comedies with ensemble casts like ‘Finding Fanny’, or family dramas like ‘Kapoor And Sons’ provide a straight forward preview, summarizing the plot concisely, while keeping things moving. Here’s hoping that the trailer in this case isn’t a reflection of the film itself. 

‘A Death In The Gunj’ premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival 2016.

What did you think of the Trailer of Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial debut?

Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @theshahshahid.

Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad

1 Comment

Split Screen Podcast: Episode 24 - The Most Anticipated Bollywood Movies Of 2017 (Part 1)| Blank Page Beatdown · January 12, 2017 at 10:28 PM

[…] Check out Shah’s in depth breakdown of the trailer for ‘A Death In The Gunj’ here. […]

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